President Xi Jinping congratulated North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, on his promotion to chairman of the ruling party, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing North Korean state media.
China has grown increasingly frustrated over Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons but continues to be the pariah state’s closest ally.
Kim, 33, the third-generation leader of isolated North Korea, added the title of chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Monday, the closing day of the first congress of the ruling party in 36 years.
“I wish the Korean people fresh success in carrying out the cause of socialism under the leadership of the WPK headed by chairman Kim Jong-un,” Xi told Kim in a message, North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.
“We will make efforts together with the DPRK side to bring happiness to the two countries and their peoples and contribute to peace, stability and development in this region by steadily developing the Sino-DPRK friendship and cooperation.”
DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.
China’s official Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying that friendship between the two countries “was personally forged and carefully fostered by the two countries’ leaderships of the older generation”.
“The traditional friendship is a treasure of both sides,” Xi said.
There was no direct mention of North Korea’s nuclear program.
The country said this week it will strengthen its defensive nuclear weapons capability, a decision adopted in defiance of United Nations resolutions.
China, North Korea’s chief ally and main trading partner, backed tough UN Security Council sanctions against the country in March following its fourth nuclear test, in January.
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